Creating Accessible Course Materials
Many of our students have what can be referred to as a “print disability”. This can be a learning disability, a visual impairment, or a physical disability. Although the manners in which the disability occurs vary, they all share one characteristic: individuals with a print disability cannot access print in the standard way.
The accommodation for these students is “text in alternative formats” or “digitized text” that can be transformed as needed to braille, large print, or audio via text-to-speech software. AccessAbility Services will coordinate the necessary digitation of the course materials based on a student’s specific needs. This process can take up to four weeks and we ask your assistance with the following:
- As soon as available, post your required textbook information on ISIS including the title, author, edition, publisher, and ISBN for required book.
- Provide AccessAbility Services with a draft of your syllabus, including the required reading order. This helps us prioritize the workflow.
- Provide AccessAbility Services with a copy of your course packet if not posting it on Ella.
- Be certain that all handouts can also be available for students in electronic format as Word documents or searchable PDF files.
- Post your syllabus on Ella.
- Whenever possible, source reading materials from the library databases as these are most often accessible full-text PDF files. Contact your RIS liaison if you need assistance with this.
- If digital materials are not readily available and you will be copying/scanning to create PDF files, please consider the following guidelines:
- Select “clean” source materials free of underlining, margin notes, or highlights and avoid materials that have been copied multiple times. It is always best to copy/scan directly from the book or journal source using the Xerox Multifunction Devices (MFD).
- Be consistent with filenames on Ella to ensure they match the syllabus reference. Recommended format: author’s last name and title.
- Post your materials at least two weeks before they are due in class. This allows us time to further digitize if necessary and still provide the student time to complete the reading.
- Utilize the “book scanning” features of the MFD’s whenever possible. If you need assistance, please see your department administrator or contact Maureen Bourbeau at extension 2524.
- Always scan in black and white. Do not use the “auto detect” setting on the MFD.
- Post to Ella before class meeting so that student can print and use as a guide in class, or view it on a laptop in class if they cannot clearly see the projection in class.
- Utilize default auto layouts that best fit the purpose of your slide content and avoid using text boxes. This will ensure the all content is translated into the outline view if needed.
- Use effective color contrast between background and text for readability.
- Use sans serif fonts (e.g. Arial, Tahoma, Verdana) and be certain the font size is sufficient to be readable from all areas of the room. It is best to test this in your particular classroom at the start of the semester.
- The audio content of video materials may need to be transcribed or captioned for a student with a hearing impairment. Commercially produced videos, DVDs, as well as publisher produced media may already have this available via subtitles. Please consult with AccessAbility Services as producing transcripts or captions is a very time consuming process, and if not feasible, will require a plan to provide and equal alternative form of access to the content.
- When using publisher content via CD, DVD or a publisher’s web portal, please contact the publisher and inquire about accessibility of the interface and content before implementing in your courses. If you need assistance, please contact AccessAbility Services.